An Introduction to Avestan

Cantera, Alberto & Céline Redard. 2019. Introduction à l’avestique récent. Sociedad de Estudios Iranios y Turanios.

Cette introduction à l’avestique récent a pour but de fournir un outil d’apprentissage aux étudiants et à toute personne intéressée par l’avestique. Le livre est composé de 4 parties: 1. 17 leçons constituées en général de 5 sous-parties : a. phonétique, b. morphologie nominale et / ou verbale, c. syntaxe, d. vocabulaire (à mémoriser et d’aide à la lecture), et finalement e. exercices avec à chaque leçon un extrait de manuscrit pour habituer l’apprenant à lire dans l’écriture originale; 2. Un glossaire avestique-français; 3. Les tableaux de morphologies nominale et verbale apparaissent à nouveau en fin de volume pour faciliter une vision d’ensemble, l’apprentissage et la recherche d’une forme à élucider; 4. le corrigé des exercices.


Sūtkar-Nask and Varštmānsar-Nask from Dēnkard 9

Tafażżolī, Aḥmad. 1398 š [2019]. Taṣḥīḥ-o tarǧome-ye Sutgar nask va Varšt-mānsar nask az Dēnkard-e 9 va sanǧeš-e in do nask bā matnhā-ye avestāʾi [An Edition and Translation of Sūtkar-Nask and Varštmānsar-Nask from Dēnkard 9 in comparison with the Avestan texts]. (Ed.) Žāle Āmuzgār. Tehran: Center for the Great Islamic Encyclopedia.

The Middle Persian Dēnkard “Acts of the religion” is a summary of 10th-century Zoroastrian knowledge of religion, considered as the “Mazdean encyclopedia”. It is divided into nine books of which, the first two and the beginning of the third are lost. The Book IX of Dēnkard consists commentaries on the three great Mazdean prayers: Ahunwar, Ašem vohū, and Yeŋ́hē hātąm from the gathic nasks of Sūtkar, Varštmānsar, and Bagnasks. Tafażżolī’s edition comprises the first two nasks, which are of mythical and historical contents.

Aḥmad Tafażżolī (1316 š/1937-1375 š/1997) was a prominent scholar and philologist in the field of Middle Iranian studies. His works deal with lexicography and the edition of Middle Persian (Pahlavi) texts and Iranian mythology, most of which, regretfully now lost. This volume is his for the first time postmortemously published doctoral thesis in ancient Iranian languages, defended on 1965 under the direction of Ṣādeq Kiā at the Tehran University. Furthermore he left nearly a dozen books, more than a hundred articles, and many book reviews, which those in Persian are also recently publihsed in The Collected Writings of Ahmad Tafazzoli.


Becoming Zarathustra

Kellens, Jean. 2018. Becoming Zarathustra. In Hugh B. Urban & Greg Johnson (eds.), Irreverence and the sacred: Critical studies in the history of religions, 185–193. New York: Oxford University Press.

This chapter examines the role of ritual and sacrifice in the most sacred Zoroastrian literature, the Gâthâs in order to explore the complex relationship between the figure of Zarathustra and the human ritual officiant. The chapter presents a very Lincoln-ian sort of history of the field of Zoroastrian studies itself, interrogating the contexts and biases of particular scholars in their various readings and misreadings of the tradition. At the same time, it offers a new way of thinking about the figure of Zarathustra himself, who is best understood not as the semi-historical “founder” of Zoroastrianism but rather as the mythical personality into which the human officiant is himself transfigured through the ritual operations.


Indo-Iranian lexicon and phraseology in the ritual poetry of the Avesta, Veda and Beyond

Sadovski, Velizar. 2017. The columns of R̥ta: Indo-Iranian lexicon and phraseology in the ritual poetry of the Avesta, Veda and Beyond. In Ivo Hajnal, Daniel Kölligan & Katharina Zipser (eds.), Miscellanea Indogermanica: Festschrift für José Luis García Ramón zum 65. Geburtstag (Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft 154), 715–743. Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachen und Literaturen der Universität Innsbruck.

The focus of the present article […] is laid on the phraseological and poetical combinatorics of the word for ‘pillar, column’, Ved. sthū́ṇā-, YAv. stū̆nā-, OPers. stūnā-, fem. […], which as a common appellative designates a constructive element of the Vedic and Avestan house (incl. the ‘mobile house’, the [migration] wagon) and functions, as well, as a key metaphor in hymns of house, e.g. in the ceremony of ‘ascending the pillar’ (by the beams) in the ritual of building a new home […]. Both in its everyday usage and in its metaphoric applications in texts of ritual character, the word seems to belong to a common lexical stratum of Indic and Iranian.


Ritual Formulae, Structures, and Activities in Vedic and Avestan Liturgies

Sadovski, Velizar. 2018. Ritual formulae, structures, and activities in Vedic and Avestan liturgies. Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft 71/1. 81134.

Die Arbeit präsentiert Untersuchungen zu einer Reihe von Begriffen aus dem Bereich des indoiranischen Kultus bzw. Rituals einerseits in ihrem Kontext innerhalb der vedischen und avestischen Ritualdichtung und -praxis und andererseits vom Standpunkt ihrer mythologischen Relevanz, insbesondere in Bezug auf ihre Rolle für die „Mythopoia“ in den Sakraltexten von Indern und Iraniern. So werden einerseits Personifikationen bzw. Deifikationen derartiger Kultbegriffe geschildert, andererseits verschiedene Mechanismen ihrer Kombinatorik auf syntagmatischer, intra-textueller Ebene (innerhalb des Kontexts eines liturgischen Hymnus/Vorgangs) bzw. auf inter-textueller Ebene, im Rahmen des Hypertexts der aus zahlreichen einzelnen Litaneien bestehenden Ritualhymnen und in den aus ganzen solchen Einzelliturgien bestehenden Ritualkomplexen dargestellt. – Der vorliegende Aufsatz entwickelt dabei die Idee über die fundamentale Rolle von Katalogen, Listen und Enumerationen als poetische, aber auch als mythologische und kosmologische Form: Basierend auf mehreren früheren Studien des Verfassers, die das Funktionieren solcher intertextuell verbundenen Textcorpora in der indoiranischen Ritualdichtung vor allem textlinguistisch, vom formalen, kompositionellen und kognitiven Standpunkt behandeln, gibt nun das Thema „Ritus im Mythos“ die Gelegenheit, die katalogisch aufgebauten Formen von Litaneien und Liturgien in den vedischen Sakraltexten vom RV an (insbesondere in den RV-Khilas und dem Yajurveda) und in der ‚Langen Liturgie‘ des Avesta sowie ihre Bedeutung sowohl zur rituellen „Wieder-Erschaffung des Universums“ mit jedem Kultakt und -text als auch zur Mythologisierung entsprechender Begriffe mit rituellem Inhalt zu untersuchen.


The Frawardīn Yašt

Malandra, William W. 2018. The Frawardīn Yašt. Introduction, translation, text, commentary and glossary (Ancient Iran Series 7). Irvine: Jordan Center for Persian Studies.
From the Preface of this volume:
With the encouragement of Professor Touraj Daryaee, I have undertaken a new edition of my old The Fravaši Yašt: Introduction, Text, Translation and Commentary, diss. University of Pennsylvania, 1971 [University Microfilms, Ann Arbor]. At the time when I wrote the dissertation I was very much under the influence of W. B. Henning’s “The Disintegration of the Avesta Studies” and the then recent book by I. Gershevitch The Avestan Hymn to Mithra. I expressed my misgivings concerning Henning’s stress-accent theory in my Preface, but was not prepared to tackle the issue, and thus treated the text as if it were prose. In the years since it has become abundantly clear that much of the Yašts were originally composed in verse, as best articulated by K. F. Geldner in his Über die Metrik des jüngeren Avesta (1877). Thus, Part II of the present work is devoted to a study of metrics and their importance for understanding the formation of the Yašts and particularly the Frawardīn. In order to make manifest the structure of Avestan poetry I have laid out the translation and text according to my construction of the Avestan.


Farnah: Indo-Iranian and Indo-European Studies in Honor of Sasha Lubotsky

Beek, Lucien, Alwin Kloekhorst, Guus Kroonen, Michaël Peyrot & Tijmen Pronk (eds.). 2018. Farnah. Indo-Iranian and Indo-European studies in honor of Sasha Lubotsky. Ann Arbor; New York: Beech Stave Press.

Over thirty specialists in Indo-European linguistics have contributed this elegant volume in honor of Prof. Sasha Lubotsky of Leiden University. Besides giving an excellent snapshot of the research currently being undertaken by his students and colleagues at that institution, Farnah contains contributions from well-known scholars across the world covering topics in Tocharian, Germanic, Slavic, Indo-Iranian, and Anatolian linguistics, to name a few.

Click here to see a full list of the contributions.

Table of Contents

    • Peter C. Bisschop: Vedic Elements in the Pāśupatasūtra
    • Václav Blažek: The Case of Tocharian ‘silver’: Inherited or Borrowed?
    • Michiel de Vaan: The Noncanonical Use of Instrumental Plurals in Young Avestan
    • Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst: Sogdian Plurals in the Vessantara Jātaka
    • Jost Gippert: A Middle Iranian Word Denoting an Office-Holder
    • Stephanie W. Jamison: The Vedic Perfect Imperative and the Status of Modal Forms to Tense-Aspect Stems
    • Michael Janda: Vedisch dhénā-: Bedeutung und Etymologie
    • Jay H. Jasanoff: The Phonology of Tocharian B okso ‘ox’
    • Jared Klein: Syncretism in Indo-European: A Natural History
    • Alwin Kloekhorst: The Origin of the Hittite ḫi-Conjugation
    • Werner Knobl: Das Demonstrativpronomen ETÁD im Ṛgveda
    • Petr Kocharov: A Comment on the Vocalization of Word-initial
      and Medial Laryngeals in Armenian
    • Frederik Kortlandt: The Indo-European k-Aorist
    • Guus Kroonen: Lachmann’s Law, Thurneysen’s Law, and a New Explanation of the PIE no-Participles
    • Leonid Kulikov: Vedic āhanás– and Its Relatives/Cognates within and outside Indo-Iranian
    • Martin Joachim Kümmel: The Survival of Laryngeals in Iranian
    • Rosemarie Lühr: Prosody in Indo-European Corpora
    • Hrach Martirosyan: Armenian Andndayin ōj and Vedic Áhi-Budhnyà– ‘Abyssal Serpent’
    • Ranko Matasović: Iranian Loanwords in Proto-Slavic: A Fresh Look
    • H. Craig Melchert: Semantics and Etymology of Hittite takš
    • Benedicte Nielsen Whitehead: PIE *gwh3-éu– ‘cow’
      Alan J. Nussbaum, A Dedicatory Thigh: Greek μηρὀς and μῆρα Once Again
    • Norbert Oettinger: Vedisch Vivásvant– und seine avestische Entsprechung
    • Birgit Anette Olsen: The Development of Interconsonantal Laryngeals in Indo-Iranian and Old Avestan ząθā ptā
    • Michaël Peyrot: Tocharian B etswe ‘mule’ and Eastern East Iranian
    • Georges-Jean Pinault: New Look at Vedic śám
    • Tijmen Pronk: Old Church Slavonic (j)utro, Vedic uṣár– ‘daybreak, morning’
    • Velizar Sadovski: Vedic and Avestan Parallels from Ritual Litanies
      and Liturgical Practices I
    • George Starostin: Typological Expectations and Historic Reality: Once Again on the Issue of Lexical Cognates between Indo-European and Uralic
    • Lucien van Beek: Greek πέδιλον ‘sandal’ and the Origin of the e-Grade in PIE ‘foot’
  • Michael Weiss: Veneti or Venetes? Observations on a Widespread Indo-European Tribal Name

Cosmic, cultic and social spaces in Early Zoroastrianism

Rezania, Kianoosh. 2017. Raumkonzeptionen im früheren Zoroastrismus. Kosmische, kultische und soziale Räume (Iranica, GOF III/NF 14). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Space, like time, is one of the basic categories of our thinking. Their concepts do not remain constant in different cultures or in changing periods, which is why dealing with a historical cultural phenomenon always requires a review of these categories in their specific culture and time. Based on the oldest linguistic and architectural evidence of Iran from the 12th to the 4th century BC, for the first time Kianoosh Rezania offers a comprehensive study of space concepts in Zoroastrianism in ancient Iran.
Based on current and historical theories of space, the Zoroastrian spaces are divided into cosmic, cultic and social spaces. The depiction of the cosmic spaces describes spatial abstractions in ancient Iranian languages as well as Zoroastrian boundary principles. Rezania examines the coordinate systems that ancient Iranians used for orientation in space and how they transformed their cognitive maps into text. This also includes the portrayal of the Zoroastrian worldview according to their older texts. At the intersection of cosmic and cultural spaces, there are transcendent spaces that contain, on the one hand, utopian spaces for communication with gods, some of which are written by poets. Since the study does not rule out dynamics and change processes in the ritual domain, reconstructions of Zoroastrian ritual surfaces in the Avestan period are presented without the inclusion of recent materials. In addition, the spatially represented social structure of the Avestan society and their spatial symbolic orders are presented.
For the table of contents of this volume visit here.

Reinventing Mosaic Torah in the Light of the Law of Ahura Mazdā and Zarathustra

Leningrad Codex text sample, portions of Exodus 15:21-16:3

Kiel, Yishai. 2017. Reinventing Mosaic Torah in Ezra-Nehemiah in the light of the law (dāta) of Ahura Mazda and Zarathustra. Journal of Biblical Literature 136(2). 323–345.

In this study I examine the linguistic and theological contours of the term (tôrâ) in Ezra-Nehemiah—particularly the identification of with the law () of God promulgated by Ezra (Ezra 7:14)—through the lens of Old Persian and Avestan notions of “the law set down (dāta)” by Ahura Mazda and revealed through Zarathustra. While the basic notion of divine revelation of laws through the mediation of Moses emerges already in preexilic biblical texts, I posit that the innovative link drawn by the authors of Ezra-Nehemiah between the Old Persian and Avestan term dāta (via Aramaic ) and the Hebrew reflects a broader and more comprehensive impact of Avestan traditions, mediated by Achaemenid ideology, on the construction and conceptualization of Mosaic in Ezra-Nehemiah. Weighing in on the ongoing debate over the range of imperial authorization of local legislation and cult in Judea, Egypt, and Asia Minor, I argue that the Achaemenids, who were probably involved in certain aspects of the codification and canonization of textual, legal, and theological manifestations of Zoroastrianism, functioned as agents (whether actively or passively) in facilitating and reinforcing the adaptation by the Babylonian-Judean scribes of Avestan notions of divine revelation of the law and scriptural unity linked to personal authority.

Avestan Textile Terms

Andrés-Toledo, Miguel Ángel. 2017. Sasanian exegesis of Avestan textile terms. In Gaspa, Salvatore, Cécile Michel & Marie-Louise Nosch (eds.), Textile terminologies from the Orient to the Mediterranean and Europe, 1000 BC to 1000 AD, 397–403. Lincoln, NE: Zea Books.